This was a labor of love project. I’ve known Chris now for over 5 years, and we have been on many bike adventures together. Years ago, when he was just getting into Gravel adventures, he began his journey by borrowing a Trek off of a friend and he then got bitten by the dirt bug. We ordered an Orbea Terra using Orbea’s customizer program called MyO where you can design your own paint scheme as well as customize the parts selection. The touch of pink on the fork is paying tribute to that first taste he got of Gravel on the Trek.
The original build was SRAM Rival 1x. Tried and true, proven, simple, a workhorse setup if you will. Nothing fancy, nothing flashy. The sort of build that just gets the job done! At the time of ordering the bike from Orbea, we upgraded to Mavic Ksyrium Elite wheels, and he’s tried multiple tire treads over the years out here in the desert southwest. Too many to name here.
We’ve ridden Brown’s Ranch (more times than I like to admit), we’ve ridden out past Seven Springs to Humboldt, we’ve done Chino Grinder in years past, and with the budding excitement around Gravel, we plan on taking even more adventures this year with our bikes. Patagonia, Flagstaff, Trinidad CO, Utah, California, you name it, we are itching to go places! That is, after all, why we bought these bikes. To expand our reach that we simply cannot achieve with our road bikes.
So that brings us to the current. He came to me with the request of upgrading, but also lightening “Cupcake” up a bit. So, we had a spider chart of requirements that had a specific rank in priority. Light, but not too light, a wider range of gear options, a good carbon wheel that won’t break the bank, and an all-purpose tire to keep up with his demanding riding style. While this sounded like a tall order, I was up for the challenge!
I knew right away what drivetrain we were going to use – SRAM AXS. The AXS line has been out for a few years now from SRAM, and it has a wide range of price points and different configurations you can go with to suit anyone’s budget and needs. I chose the ever popular “Mullet” setup. This is where you pair road levers, with a mtn. rear derailleur for the widest range of gears possible. Because SRAM technology is wireless, this is now possible! It is brilliant! So you have a drop bar bike and road levers, but the gears of your favorite 29’er. We went with Force levers/brakes, Force 1x crank with a 40T ring, and GX AXS R/D Eagle chain and the XG-1295 10-52T cassette. We splurged a bit on the cassette as the XG-1295 is quite a bit lighter than the XG-1275, and aesthetically, it is a nice touch in all black. When it came to the brakes, I know that SRAM isn’t always a fan favorite, so I like to run Shimano rotors when I can. Using the XT MT-800 is a great choice. They are affordable, utilize Shimano’s FREEZA technology to keep them cool and quiet.
Now it was onto wheels/tires. I needed to keep in mind Chris’ riding style, his ideal wheel was not only light, but strong, reasonably priced, and we also wanted to take advantage of the advances in wheel design since he bought his bike a few years ago. Again for me, this was kind of a no brainer – ENVE. ENVE is the OG of carbon wheels, and who else has embraced the Gravel bike culture the way they have. Now, not everyone can afford their premium G-Series which is why I love that they created their Foundation line. All the ENVE DNA with a more affordable price tag. I chose to go with the AG25 with I9 hubs. I’ll tell you what, these wheels are 100% legit! Hookless technology couldn’t have been easier to work with, and if you’ve ever mounted tubeless tires and fought with getting them to seat on the rim, you know what I’m talking about. I go these done on the first attempt and with a floor pump! No leaks, no mess! The additional “lip” on the rim provides extra protection if you run your tires at a low pressure and come down hard on any rocks or roots. As for the tires, we went in a different direction. I decided to try the all new American Classic Krumbein. It comes in a few different sizes (we went with 700x40c) in both an all black or tan sidewall. The price may have you asking yourself, “how good can it be?”. If you don’t know, American Classic relaunched last year selling their tires direct to consumer via their website or on Amazon. I won’t get into prices here, but needless to say, you will be shocked at how affordable they are! First impressions are that this is going to be a great tire for this area. An open tread design with taller more aggressive knobs on the shoulders for cornering/turning confidence, and a center section designed to handle both single track and loose gravel. They have many tread patterns so I’m sure you’ll find one to suit your needs and riding style.
The overall outcome here is something I am really happy with. This bike is now ready to take on any trail, any gravel road, and any adventure. This summer is going to be fun checking more epic rides off of our list! If you see Cupcake out in the wild, make sure to stop and say hi!
Crafted by Hand Built with Love A Cycling Atelier